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UB Wellness Education Services receives 2017 Prevention Excellence Award

Award recognizes universities with outstanding sexual violence prevention programs

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UB is one of five schools selected for the National Campus Prevention Network’s 2017 Sexual Assault Prevention Excellence Award.

Only schools that ranked in the top six percent of national Sexual Assault Diagnostic Inventory, an assessment that evaluates the strength of a school’s sexual assault prevention efforts, were eligible. Anna Sotelo-Peryea, UB’s violence prevention coordinator, believes UB was selected for the award because of its peer education programs. These programs include UB Men’s Group, which helps men take proactive steps to prevent sexual violence and the Student Survivor Advocacy Alliance, a group started by survivors to engage in activism and advocacy to prevent assault. Wellness Education Services received the award Oct. 20.

“Really the entire existence of our program depends on the students,” Sotelo-Peryea said. “The only big funding increase we’ve had in recent years came directly from student activism.”

Both groups are nationally certified and go through sexual violence prevention training.

Training sessions such as Bystander Intervention and How to Help a Sexual Assault Survivor also made UB a standout school for sexual violence prevention, according to Sotelo-Peryea.

The Bystander Intervention training, which Sotelo-Peryea said hundreds of people completed this semester alone, teaches people how they can intervene in situations where sexual violence might occur.

How to Help a Sexual Assault Survivor is training recommended for people without previous experience with sexual violence. It gives an overview of how everyday situations can turn into sexual assault. The program goes through what to say and what not to say to survivors in addition to going over reporting and support options.

“Well-meaning people can ask questions that sound like victim blaming and make survivors feel guilty,” Sotelo-Peryea said. “The training emphasizes how to be supportive without taking control of the situation.”

Both programs are “evidence-based” and informed by data, according Sotelo-Peryea. This data comes from Haven and National College Health Assessment. She believes it is important to have multiple programs and organizations that work to prevent sexual violence at a university.

“Students should have multiple experiences with sexual violence prevention during their time in college,” Sotelo-Peryea said.

Aaron Maracle, assistant violence prevention specialist, believes students are more apt to listen to their peers about sexual assault.

“If students see peers saying the same thing as [administrators], it makes a difference,” Maracle said. “And they aren’t just echoing things from us. They are saying, this is what students need from personal experience.”

Maracle was one of the founding members of UB’s Men’s Group. He said he and his friends were inspired to start the organization after taking a peer education class that addressed sexual assault.

“The more I learned about sexual assault, the more I wondered what we could do to help survivors,” Maracle said.

Jamie Core, a graduate student in social work who currently serves as a Men’s Group leader, feels it is important to have a sexual assault prevention group specifically for men because he believes males often “tune out” of the conversation about assault.

“[Men] think, ‘oh I’m not a rapist so I don’t need to be involved in this,’” Core said. “But even though you’re not perpetrating the sexual violence, it’s great to be an ally against sexual violence. Sexual assault is an everybody issue – not just a women’s issue.”

Men’s Group holds monthly meetings to help “draw in” men to the conversation about sexual assault in a lighthearted and welcoming manner. The group hosts activities that teach about consent using creative means such as ice cream toppings. The organization also presents relevant film screenings, such as “The Mask You Live In,” a documentary about America’s narrow and confining definition of masculinity.

This month’s activity is “Poker and Pizza.” The idea behind the activity is the conversation about sexual assault will be less intense because it will take place around a meal and a game, Core said.

Core believes UB was honored with this award because it is more proactive in addressing sexual violence than other universities.

“Unlike other universities, UB takes pride in the sexual assault prevention,” Core said. For example, UB requires new students to complete Haven, an online course, which gives students a basis of what sexual violence is, according to Core.

Maracle said he admires students’ enthusiasm about sexual violence prevention.

“We really love students wanting to learn more about [sexual violence prevention] since it is such a big issue,” Maracle said. “We want students to know there is help out there, and it is never too late to ask for it.”

Maddy Fowler is a news editor and can be reached at maddy.fowler@ubspectrum.com


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